Difference Between Internet Speed & Bandwidth

Do you ever have thoughts about the differences between Internet speed and bandwidth?

If I frame this question better, do you think Internet speed and bandwidth are the same or different?

Well, the answer is they are not the same.

Internet bandwidth and Internet speed are different.

I started my career as a network engineer and received proper training.

So I knew the differences between bandwidth and speed. However, I never thought most people use these two terms as both are the same.

To my surprise, I even met a technician who passed the CCNA and did not know the difference between these terms.

He was an employee of an Internet Service Provider in my locality.

While speaking about the ISP packages, he refers to both terms speed and bandwidth are the same.

Like him, many people referring to both these terms are the same, and they never understand the differences.

This article explains the differences between the bandwidth offered by an Internet Service Provider and the speed you get while downloading and uploading.

Difference between Internet speed and bandwidth

Internet speed and bandwidth are technically different.

Bandwidth is referring the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time through the network, while speed is the time taken to reach the data (in the form of packets) from source to destination.

The bandwidth is a fixed value, but the network speed varies.

Network speed depends on many factors, including the protocol to send data, server efficiency, network conjunction, etc.

Let us check the differences between bandwidth and speed in practical life.

How do we measure the Internet bandwidth?

We cannot check the bandwidth of your connection by downloading a file on your laptop.

So, we need to rely on third-party tools to test the Internet speed and bandwidth.

Connection Bandwidth Versus Downloading Speed

I explained before that the bandwidth is a constant value, but the speed is variable.

Higher bandwidth helps you download a file faster on your computer. But the download speed depends on many other factors too.

Let us check the factors that affect the Internet connection speed.

The factors that affect the actual downloading and uploading speed are the number of devices sharing the bandwidth, the speed of the download server, the protocol you are using, etc.

Even if you have high bandwidth, if the remote server is slow, it will reduce the Internet speed.

The upload and download speed depends on the connection protocol you are using.

The data transfer speed depends on whether this connection uses a connection-oriented protocol (TCP) or connectionless protocol  (UDP).

UDP is always faster than TCP because there is no error detection and synchronizing.

So, having the same bandwidth, the user will experience a higher speed with UDP connections.

So, in a nutshell, Internet speed and Internet bandwidth are different. Internet bandwidth is assigned by your ISP and is constant (as long as your ISP keeps its promise), while Internet speed varies with the speed of the remote server and the protocol they use to send data.

You can improve the broadband speed by changes under your control, but only the ISP can change the bandwidth allocated to you.